“Companions on the Journey” – A Reflection on the Railaco Immersion Tour, Timor-Leste


My son Elijah (10) and I went to Timor Leste with a great desire to ‘help’, but I left satisfied that simply being me (a mother, a wife, a friend, a teacher) and ‘sharing life’ with the people, especially in the remote area of Railaco, was the greatest gift I could give.

It is difficult to sum up a week of the most authentic, awe inspiring and humbling experiences but I share here a few special connections made on our journey to becoming ‘no longer strangers’, but good neighbours and caring companions to the people of Timor- Leste.

In the absence of a shared language, I experienced the simple yet extraordinary power a smile can have. The silent ‘knowing’ between mothers, sharing food, singing and dancing together – all can engender trust and cement even the most unlikely of friendships.

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ST. CANICE’S PARISH AND RAILACO PARISH: “A Very Fruitful Relationship”

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Last week, parishioners from St. Canice’s parish, the sister parish of the Railaco parish that have been supporting Railaco for many years, along with other friends from Australia came to Timor – Leste. The whole week, from June 23rd to 28th, was a very fruitful and memorable time for the 18 visitors and parishioners from the parish of St. Canice in Sydney Australia that spent the whole week in Timor. The group visited the Railaco parish and some remote villages in Railaco and also the Jesuit schools in Kasait. The aim of their visit was to see the reality and the progress of the Railaco parish in the programs that are supported by the St. Canice’s parish such as: feeding program, mobile clinic, NOSSEF high school, water project, and other projects of the Jesuit Social Services.

Even though the visit from the parishioners of St. Canice was a momentous occasion for the communities especially the residents in the remote villages of Railaco, this was an opportunity for the parishioners of St. Canice to witness and meet the people – children, students, teachers, elders, youth– whom they have had such a successful long distance relationship with.

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The Jesuits in Timor Leste renewed their contract with the Diocese of Dili on Railaco Mission

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The Society of Jesus in Timor Leste has just renewed the contract with the Diocese of Dili pertaining to the administration of the Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Railaco and the parochial school NOSSEF. The contract is for the duration of 25 years. The Jesuits has been in Railaco since 2001 doing pastoral works as well as running the parochial high school and the various social action ministries such as the mobile clinic and the feeding program. The Railaco mission was elevated as a full parish in October, 2017.

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The new contract sets another milestone for the Jesuits in Timor Leste and the parishioners of Railaco. In order to sustain its programs, the Parish in Railaco, since 2003, has also been receiving strong support from the Parish of St. Canice in KingsCross, Sydney which is often referred to by the people of Railaco as their “sister” parish. Signing the contract are Most Rev. Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, DD, the bishop of the Diocese of Dili, Fr. Joaquim Sarmento, SJ, the Superior of the Jesuits. Signing as witnesses are Fr. Ludgério Martins da Silva, the chancellor of the diocese and Fr. Violanto Soares, SJ, the national director of Apostleship of Prayer.

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On the occasion of the signing, Bishop Virgilio also expressed his gratitude for the Society of Jesus for running the mission in Railaco and hopes that this contract will be an opportunity for the community of Railaco and the Jesuits to collaborate for a greater good of the parish. “The Jesuits’ pastoral mission in Railaco brought in some changes in the spiritual and livelihood of the people in Railaco, and the community has also expressed that they love the presence of the Jesuits in their midst. The Jesuits have reached every corner of the Railaco even in very remote areas, they contribute to education, and also help in the infrastructure of the parish. Therefore, Diocese of Dili trusts the Jesuit Mission in Railaco and hopeful that the 25-year contract will be an opportunity for the pastoral mission of the Jesuits to do more and accomplish more in the community and the church”, uttered Bishop Virgilio.

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Regional Superior of the Jesuits in Timor – Leste, Fr. Joaquim Sarmento, SJ, also expressed his gratitude for the Diocese of Dili in entrusting Railaco to the Society of Jesus since 2003. On behalf of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Joaquim wholeheartedly expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Jesuits and the people of Railaco for this 25-year contract which is a sign of trust and will be an opportunity to serve the local church.

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Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam +